Colposcopy Accent Image


It’s impossible not to feel anxious when you hear that a Pap test came back with abnormal results, but you can rely on the team at The Association for Women’s Health Care for support as you take the next step — a colposcopy. During the colposcopy, your doctor will identify potential problems and take a biopsy for a definitive diagnosis. You’ll receive compassionate and confident care with our providers at both The Loop in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois locations.

Colposcopy Q&A

What is a colposcopy?

A colposcopy is a procedure used to examine your cervix and vagina using a medical device called a colposcope. The colposcope brightly illuminates and magnifies the area being examined, which makes it easier to see changes in tissues, identify abnormal cells, and take a biopsy if needed.

When do you need a colposcopy?

Your doctor at The Association for Women’s Health Care may perform a colposcopy if a Pap test or cervical exam revealed:

  • Precancerous changes of the cervix
  • Precancerous changes of the vagina
  • Precancerous changes of the vulva
  • Inflammation of the cervix
  • Genital warts

What special tests may be done during colposcopy?

Several tests can be done during a colposcopy to help the doctor identify potential problems:

  • Acetic acid wash: When the cervix is brushed with acetic acid, abnormal cells turn white, which helps the doctor identify any problem areas.
  • Color filters: During a colposcopy, filters may be applied to the colposcope that help the doctor detect changes in small blood vessels that often develop as a result of precancerous changes.
  • Cervical biopsy: If any abnormalities are suspected, a biopsy is performed during the colposcopy. Your doctor at The Association for Women’s Health Care will remove a sample of tissue from abnormal areas, which will then be examined under a microscope.

Cervical biopsies can be done several ways, using a laser, scalpel, or a punch instrument to remove a piece of tissue. In some cases, an instrument called a curette may be used to simply scrape tissue from the cervix.

How is a colposcopy performed?

A colposcopy begins just like a regular pelvic exam, with a speculum used to open the vagina and enable the doctor to examine the cervix. The colposcope is positioned near the opening of the vagina, but without touching you, then the doctor apples the acetic acid wash, visually examines the cervix, and performs a biopsy if necessary. The entire procedure typically takes about 15 minutes and usually doesn’t cause any discomfort.

The physicians at The Association for Women’s Health Care have extensive experience performing colposcopies. Your team here understands the stress and anxiety caused by even a hint of cancer or other health problems, so we’re here to answer questions and offer support.